Dixie is a booze- and sex-addicted, trash-talking, child-neglecting ex-con from Alabama who holds Tupperware parties in her trailer, and she's invited you to this one. Dixie's Tupperware Party really is a Tupperware party — you get a name tag and raffle number when you walk into to the Garner Galleria Theatre, and there are pens and catalogues on all the tables. Your hostess greets you in high white heels and a crotch-skimming skirt, earrings swinging, red hair piled high. Collapsible bowls, punch and party setups, ribbed mugs (uh-huh) and plastic jugs in shades of lime, blue, orange and purple gleam on a table behind her. By the time she's through, you won't be able to look at a plastic storage container without giggling. Just the words "collapsible bowl" will set you off.
And Dixie is also Kris Andersson, an actor who realized he could make an actual living selling Tupperware and began hosting parties. As he worked, the character of Dixie developed, and the parties became so successful that now Andersson/Dixie sell over $25,000 worth a month — though poor Dixie is still struggling for the title of the company's top seller and the diamond necklace that comes with it. Andersson took his show to New York's Fringe Festival in 2004, and it caught fire from there.
This show is dirty. Seriously dirty. I'm usually pretty fearless about audience interaction, but I found myself cowering in my seat when Dixie's heavily mascara'd eyes swiveled in my direction, or when she called out the numbers of the raffle winners. She went relatively easy on the first of these, a young woman who said she worked at an animal hospital, but her antics when the second — who happened to be Channel 7's Bertha Lynn — appeared on stage were seriously blush-making, involving the protracted and lascivious fingering of a small dangling ball. Lynn's charming smile never faltered. Then there was Zack, who spent about ten minutes fiddling with a tricky can opener while Dixie fired off gabbled and garbled instructions that were no help whatsoever. She was a little more merciful to a pretty blonde sitting near me, from whom she required a loud "Fuck you!" to male chauvinism. After harassing this poor woman several times, she accepted a whispered version. One brave audience member — whom Dixie had been insisting all evening was a lesbian — did manage to hold her own. After winning a game Dixie called rimming (uh-huh again), she swung her dark ponytail and called out triumphantly, "Lesbians do it better!"
Presented by Denver Center Attractions through January 2, Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org.
This show makes for one terrific evening, the best I've spent in the Galleria, and one of the funniest I've had in Denver. Dixie is a great character. She doesn't give an inch, but she's as appealing as she is wicked. If she fumbles the long words, she's also amazingly quick-witted. The spiel she used on Lynn, for example, has probably served her many times before, but there's no way she could have anticipated the animal hospital worker — and her improvisations there were equally hilarious.
Andersson not only loves Dixie, but he loves Tupperware, too — and he's not being snarky about it. He believes that Brownie Wise, the single mother who came up with the idea of the Tupperware party in the early 1950s and made such a success of the concept that she became the company's vice president, is a true feminist hero. Women were called to service in the factories during World War II, Dixie reminds us, but once the fighting was over, they were sent back to the kitchen (it's for this injustice that she solicited the "Fuck you!" from my neighbor). Wise bucked the trend, confounded corporate convention, and brought women together to kibitz and party. So no matter how much Dixie screws up her spiel or how many lewd jokes she makes about the uses to which you can put "the best plastic crap on the planet," there's a reverential quality to the way she fondles the goods that makes you actually want to buy them, and that I found more convincing than the slightly sentimental speech about her abusive husband.
Dixie may not have all her lady bits in order, but she's an honor to the sisterhood.
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